On Borneo's margins, land, freshwater and salt sea come together to make the mangrove swamp. A nursery for millions of fish and other creatures, the growth that occurs in the mangrove swamp affects the food chains far out to sea and back inland.
Mangrove trees have developed extraordinary adaptations that allow them to survive in the swamps. Their roots are specially suited to withstand the detrimental affects of sea water, and actually protrude above the watery surface of the swamp to obtain adequate amounts of oxygen. Additionally, the mangrove's leaves and fruit provide nourishment for the many creatures of the swamp.
The proboscis monkeys that live in the swamps are unique to Borneo, and only a few thousand remain. Named for its massive nose, which hangs off its face like a deflated balloon, the proboscis monkey is among Borneo's less attractive inhabitants. But in spite of its off-putting appearance, the proboscis is a benign, gentle monkey. It diets on fruits and plants, and when food is scarce, on the leaves and fruit of the mangrove tree. The proboscis monkey has a unique adaptation when it comes to eating -- its belly holds several stomachs, each filled with potent digestive bacteria. Most animals find the slightly poisonous mangrove unpalatable, but for the proboscis, the mangrove is simply a meal.
Other monkeys frequent the mangrove swamps. Long tailed macaques, though they eat fruit, prefer to feed on crabs and other marine organisms they sift out of the swamp's waters. The silver langur, a close relative of the proboscis monkey, is known for the vivid difference in color between babies and adults. Babies are a rusty orange, but when they reach adulthood, they turn a silvery gray.
The wide areas of mud that compose the mangrove swamps look empty, but when the tide rolls out, it reveals a rich feeding ground, complete with an assortment of unique creatures. Though they are fish, mudskippers can walk out of the water onto drier land. They pull themselves forward with their large pectoral fins, and breathe sea water stored in their gill chambers. The mud contains micro-organisms, algae and small plants that hungry mudskippers welcome with enthusiasm -- almost as enthusiastically as mud-loving crabs.
With its one overdeveloped claw, the fiddler crab tries to attract
females and keep other males at bay. It signals to other crabs by making
a quick, vibrating movement on the surface of the mud. Other crabs sense
the vibrations, and respond.